Being highly influenced by legendary artists such as Prince, Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald and rock bands of the 80’s, 90’s and now, Lisa Lauren Smith has created a blend of musical composition that, by some, has been described as “Lenny Kravitz meets Christina Aguilera”. Her vocal arrangements, help cultivate an image all her own and has built an audience that shares her same love and for Pop/Rock and R&B music.
Born April 3 in Detroit, MI, she is the daughter of Earl P Smith, a retired electrician and Barbara Jean Jacobs, a retired music teacher, jazz and opera singer. Having one younger brother, Robert, the two children were exposed to the life of music and live performance at a very young age. Weekends often times brought the babysitter to care for the two, while dad managed mom’s career as a professional jazz and contemporary vocalist. Both children would watch and listen as their mother rehearsed weekly with her band at the local rehearsal hall. It was during that same time when she and her brother would attend Operas and Choral Concerts, where their mother would shine on stage not only as a singer, but an actress as well. These are the influences that she believes caused her to serenade an entire airplane cabin at the age of four. After her unexpected [aisle] performance of the Broadway tune “Tomorrow”, 4 year old Lisa took a bow. “That’s when I knew…”, says the mother of the songstress. Since then, Lisa has grown into becoming one of the versatile vocalists of her city as well as her generation.
A natural born performer, the Detroit native started playing piano at an early age and later moved on to violin and French horn. By age 12, she formed her first group. “Trak 3” consisted of three members, Chinelo Amen-ra as a rapper, Erica Henton who was another rapper in the group and herself, who took the position of being a third rapper, songwriter and singer for the hooks. This was Lisa’s first venture as a recording artist, and still being in grade school, she was the most excited. However, the group eventually dissolved as a result of inexperienced management. Lisa continued singing as a local hire for weddings, funerals and other family events. As a teenager, she attended The Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, also home to late recording artist Aaliyah, where she was trained in live performance as a musician and an artist.
It was here where she played in Jazz Band, Symphony Band and String Orchestra, under the direction of Edward Quick. Mr. Quick would prepare Lisa and the many others like her for competitive and live performance programs. Lisa, won awards in classical piano, string ensemble, festival and district competition. She also participated in marching band where she traded in her French horn for a mellophone. “Those were the best four years of my life”, she says while reminiscing. As a result of the rigorous 10 hour days required of each student for academic and creative study, Lisa graduated with honors and was ready to begin her career.
Soon after graduation, Lisa became lead singer for "Galaxy", a band whose eclectic mix of Jazz, Hip Hop, R&B turned them into Detroit local favorites among the live band scene. The band’s energy was endorsed by many fans who were the reason they were hired to play at popular Detroit establishments such as Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, The Olympia Restaurant and Hart Plaza just to name a few. Their audience spanned from young hip hop listeners to die hard jazz heads. Their ability to perform tracks by Artists such as Mobb Deep and Jay-z on live instruments made them a favorite on the 21 and up club scene. As the band grew more and more popular, the group grew more apart. Galaxy eventually went their separate ways to live their own individual lives and Lisa found herself wanting, once again.
Galaxy's reputation opened new doors for Lisa. She was hired as morning show producer for Radio One’s 102.7FM, one of the top Hip Hop/R&B stations in Detroit. Lisa Lauren Smith became alter ego "Mona Lisa", her part time radio personality. On-Air Jingles and station promos followed as her astonishing voice became well known throughout the city. After ending her very short tenure in a broadcasting career, she returned to what she knew best…singing. In 2003, she packed her belongings, sold her car and used the money for relocation to Los Angeles, California. There, she worked three years singing with local bands, and writing hooks for aspiring rap artists. Lisa grew tired of not having her own original material and began working on her first solo project. “Rock Steady” was born. Now completed, the finished product “Rock Steady” is the sum of the years leading up to her creative ascent with a vibe that is commercial and fun. Songs on the album are written and co-produced by herself and respected R&B/Rock producer, Jesse Johnson (Prince, The Time). Tracks include her own musical compositions such as “Delilah”, “Sometime”, “Season To Love” and “Check Yo’Self”. Rock Steady, is a true reflection of that which makes her the most unique. Being of an intense spiritual background, her lyrics combine personal growth, experience, sassy attitude and the unique blend of soul, and rock for your listening pleasures.
In addition to her singing, Lisa is an accomplished actor in theater, commercial and film with credits to prove. She has been cast in “The Future Stars on Broadway” beside tap sensation Ted Louis Levy (former tap choreographer for Gregory Hines and Savion Glover), who also requested her abilities for a solo in his feature show “One More Rhythm”. It was in this show that Lisa took the stage and performed “Flying Home” by Ella Fitzgerald. Some say, “with every scat in place”. Prior to her performance as “Ella”, in the historical Jazz Café of Detroit’s famous Music Hall Theater, Lisa was featured as another jazz legend in the off-Broadway play “Queen Of The Blues”, directed by Jerry Jones (featured actor in “Jesus Walks” by Kanye West).
Lisa was cast as Billie Holiday. Changing up her look, style and even her speaking voice, she quickly went from her 20’s to late 40’s to depict the troubled singer at some of the last stages of her life. Her performance received raved reviews and held an extra two week slot, by request, at The Stella Adler Theater in Hollywood, California.
Performing her original songs non-stop since the release of her album debut, Lisa Lauren Smith's deadly combination of raw talent and enormous ambition is sure to make waves in the ever-fluctuating music world. She’s already gathered fans, young and old, around most of Detroit and the Metro area and has participated in many of the cities most popular festivals and venues such as The Detroit Festival of the Arts, Campus Martius - Summer In the Park, the renowned Baker’s Keyboard Lounge, Bert’s On Broadway and The Emerald Theater just to name a few. Currently she is writing for her second album and can be seen performing live at various venues across the country.
Let me introduce the band:
Nate Winn is not just a drummer. He is a drummer extraordinaire. Having graced the stage with the most elite in musicians and artists of today, he has well proven his ability to be that which deserves nothing less than the highest in respect. Nate has been most privileged to work with great musicians such as Trumpeter, Marcus Belgrave, Saxophonists, Joe Lovano and Eddie Daniels. He has accompanied vocalists like Diane Schuur, Kurt Elling and Broadway Renowned Dancer/Singer Ted Louis Levy. God and music have been two major influences to his life as well as his lifestyle. By it, he has been groomed by the best of the best and is looking forward to continue his uphill spiral of great success.
Born Nathaniel Darnell Winn II, Nate was an only child to parents Nate Winn II and Donna Winn. It was at the age of three when during a church service, young Nate discovered the drums. It was at that time when Nate would make a toy out of everything his family’s home had to offer. From pots and pans to shoeboxes, his encouragement grew and was well supported by those around him. By the age of 8, Nate began to play drums for his school band. Throughout school, he would later become a member of his high school jazz band, marching band and wind symphony orchestra. Participating in music festivals was a requirement for young Nate but later proved itself to be quite beneficial in his on stage performance. Nate attended Wayne State University where he received a full scholarship, and continued his studies in music on and off the stage.
Calvin Rodgers, Teddy Campbell, Jeremy Haynes and Marvin McQuitty are just some of the very talented musicians known to the music world who Nate became the most influenced by. These men have also provided him with the inspiration to explore and hone his craft in the many others many styles of music where drummers are much needed and appreciated. Nate has not only performed as a Jazz, Gospel, R&B, Soul and Contemporary drummer, but is now expanding his territory into ground that he says “is the most fun”, which is rock! Being a man of great faith, he is open to the wonderful opportunities still to come and is very grateful for, in his words… “what God is going to do next”! Nate Winn, is currently performing on drums with Pop/Rock Artist Lisa Lauren Smith.
PETE MARTINEZ had been a professional musician in the Detroit area for decades. He grew up listening to anything he could get his hands on, playing in bands and studying Jazz and Contemporary Media at Wayne State University (directly under Detroit legend Matt Michaels) and has matured into a seasoned and highly sought after session player and private instructor. His travels have brought him to share the stage and studio with many up-and-coming and several legendary artists.
For the past few years, the focus has been on his academy of music as well as several original projects. Currently, Pete serves as Musical Director for recording artist ALYSSA SIMMONS, Musical Director for theatrical production BOLDLY BLUE, Keyboardist/Vocalist for the original, contemporary-blues project BLUE BANG THEORY (lead by THREE DOG NIGHT band member PAUL KINGERY), is a regular contributor at SEED RECORDINGS (Boston, NYC), and serves on the music team at KENSINGTON COMMUNITY CHURCH.
A composer, a performer, an educator and a perennial student of music, Pete Martinez's unconventional and flexible approach allows him to thrive in any situation and with any style of music. To add to his list accomplishments, past and present, Pete Martinez also performs as a sit-in musician for Pop/Rock Artist LISA LAUREN SMITH.
Darell “Red” Campbell Jr.
Dorinda Clark-Cole, Yolanda Adams, Eminem, Jazz Wagon, Obie trice, Sean Hardin, Rob and Big; Run’s House, Ego Trip’s (white) Rapper Show, David Miller, Christian Keys and Wow Gospel 2006 are just some of the artists and projects that the most sought sftar bassist in the Detroit area has contributed his talents and abilitites.
It all seems like the storyline to a lifetime movie script. “It’s unbelievable, the things that God has let me do already,” proclaimed Darell Campbell Jr., a 26-year old Detroit native who was raised in the midst of rehearsals and band meetings alongside his father. During a Christmas vacation, at the age of 10, he secretly used his father’s recording equipment and recorded and produced his very own rap album. He says, “I just pushed the buttons that I saw my dad press. I guess that sparked my curiosity to do something musically.” However, his career didn’t actually take off until he was 12 when he was allowed to play piano on Sunday mornings at church. After realizing that he would make a much better musician than football player, he quickly grasping advanced musical concepts. He ventured off to learning stringed instruments in high school. He had learned the basics of the violin in middle school; but, as soon as the opportunity presented itself he switched to string bass. “I would have started on bass, but I was too short before high school, that was an instrument they allowed the taller kids to play.” Playing the bass, he gained the wisdom of classical mentors of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) as a member of the DSO Civic Orchestra. Growing in musical stature and acumen, he earned the chair as one f the founding members of the DSO Civic Jazz Orchestra under the tutelage of Jazz legend Marcus Belgrave and many others. “Growing up in the inner city and listening to my dad playing top 40, then being trained classically and shifting to Jazz allows me to create all kinds of things in my head!”
After graduating from high school, he earned a touring position as the auxiliary keyboardist for the legendary Detroit singing quintet The Dramatics. Surviving the realities of the “road musician,” he decided to concentrate more on leading other young musicians to gain the opportunity to be the best that God has for them to be while still continuing his steadfast entrepreneurship as independent producer. He has grown into being one of the youngest most versatile musicians and musical directors in the motor city!
Ken Morris, is an exception to his generation of talented musicians. Having performed with such greats as Marcus Belgrave, Vaughn Klugh, Xscape and Keith Sweat, just to name a few, he has since jump started a career expected to take him to the top of his game in the class of leading guitar professionals.
Kenneth Ray Morris Jr, was born in Detroit, Michigan on the 30th day of May. As the middle child to Kenneth Morris Sr., business entrepreneur and Jacqueline Morris, a state worker, Ken was very much inspired to become a successful working adult like both of his parents. However, it was on a Sunday at church, when young Ken gathered a new inspiration. He watched the lead guitar player in the pool pit, give a fascinating performance, and wanted to do the same. Ken was 13 years old. Soon after, he was taken under the wing of another church musician who noticed his talent and began to give Ken private guitar lessons. He grew more into his craft, and the likings of legendary guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai, B.B. King and Prince began to influence his style and creativity. Having the ability to read music and play by ear, was the genesis for what would be known as his very first contemporary gospel group. “Non-Stop Praise”, would be formed by Ken Morris Jr. and include Lead Vocalist Michael Hunter, Drummer Robert Washington, Singer Karen Perry and Tavares Harris on Bass Guitar. After a slew of auditions for an added keyboardist, Ken turned in his strings and temporarily filled the position. The group was now complete. After a 4 year run of shows and recordings, the group dissolved and Ken was forced to move into his next venture. High schools in the Detroit area were thriving with music programs, bands and inner city competitions. He participated in the Denby Jazz band as a guitarist and upright bassist,under the direction of band director Charles Johnson. Ken received an honorable mention, for his solo performance, in one of the schools state competitions for this group. Following that Ken was invited to play in the civic jazz orchestra under the leadership of World renowned trumpet player Marcus Belgrave. The famed musician took Ken under his wing and introduced him to Vaughn Klugh, whom he would study under for the next four years. Ending his tenure of intensive study and professional performance preparation, Ken would then join another group of high school students who shared the passion and talent of musicians twice their age. The Detroit R&B group “HotSauce” was born. With Ken leading on guitar, the group began to grow into more professional settings and became the band for gospel girl trio “Prezence”, as well as playing corporate gigs, weddings and other live entertainment venues.
Kenneth Morris Jr. later departed from “HotSauce” to form his own Band. “2 Daze Sober”, was a rock band of its own dimension. An all-black rock band was his new found fame and this was the group expected to make all his childhood dreams of stardom become a reality. Practicing 4 to 5 times a week for 7 hours at a time, the group’s unity and determination was a surety for the success they would anticipate. They recorded their first album at the famous Studio 8, where famed rap recording artist Eminem would also record. The band’s engineer, was suddenly gunned down by another artist and all of the music, files, recordings and equipment in the late engineer’s possession were confiscated by police for evidence during investigation. This included all of the work recorded by “2 Daze Sober”. 3 years later, he is still wowing audiences with his energetic presentation and mesmerizing guitar tricks and solos. Currently, Ken is Lead Guitarist for Pop/Rock Artist Lisa Lauren Smith.